5 Ways To Improve Your General Conditioning

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Most people feel like shit when they first start CrossFit. Then, over time, your body becomes accustomed to the (positive) stresses being placed upon it. And then comes the plateau. Yup, that big ugly plateau where everything seems to be stuck at the same point. Weights don’t get any lighter and met cons always feel gassy. Congratulations, you have got past “white belt” stage!!! Now the key is learning how to achieve “black belt” (I actually prefer to call this Jedi Level 1!!) status in the most efficient way possible.

The key to improvements in CrossFit is fundamentally improving your strength & power outputs and implementing these adaptations in our tests, the met con. A met con, however, tests multiple different functions in multiple different scenarios using all 3 energy systems. So how do we best condition our bodies to handle the rigours of such a multi-faceted challenge? Here are 5 ways we use with our athletes:

1. L.S.D

Before you get any ideas, this is not an order to use the hallucinogenic drug!!!! L.S.D stands for long slow distance and this is an oft under-utilised element in developing better “gas tanks” in CrossFit athletes. Try to think of anything that involves typical “cardio” activity lasting longer than 20 minutes as L.S.D work. This is the easiest way to improve overall aerobic conditioning and develops good control of a steady heart rate and breathing rate. Typical examples might include a 20 minute row at a slow to moderate pace, a 5km run or even a 40 minute continuous swim.

2. Every minute on the minute training

We love EMOMs as they are affectionately known at CrossFit Turmoil! These can be varied in so many ways and add so much value in a training program particularly when the goal is to improve an athletes ability to perform a movement “unbroken”. These can be short or long in duration and can focus on one movement or multiple movements. The beauty of an EMOM is the in-built recovery period that allows very high intensity work to be maintained for a long period of time. Here are two examples:

a) EMOM for 12 mins of 8 x Touch & Go Power Cleans @ 60% 1RM

b) EMOM for 30 mins of:
Min 1 – Row 12 calories
Min 2 – 10 x T2B
Min 3 – 8 x Overhead Squats @ 42.5/30
Keep repeating…

3. Breathing Ladders & Drills

Limiting how quickly the onset on panic breathing takes place during a met con is of huge importance in developing your ability to maintain high quality, high intensity work for longer. Breathing ladders are a simple and very effective way of improving this skill. Heres an example of one we’ve used before:

1 x Power Clean @ 60% 1RM
1 breath
2 x Power Cleans
2 breaths
3 x Power Cleans
3 breaths
Repeat up to 10 x Power Cleans

Other breathing drills include actually forcing the onset of panic breathing sooner and teaching the athlete how to control this. One way of doing this that we will soon be utilising with our competitive athletes is to use face masks that simulate training at altitude.

4. “Prison” Ladders

Another simple, but brutally effective way in conditioning your body to be able to link together multiple reps of a movement when already fatigued. Generally this is utilised with one movement, but it can be done with two complimentary movements. The idea of these is to continue to complete unbroken sets of the movement for the whole duration of the ladder. Here are two examples:

a) 1 x Burpee
Walk 5 metres
2 x Burpees
Walk 5 metres
3 x Burpees
Walk 5 metres
Continue all the way to 20 x Burpees

b) 1 x Push Up
1 x Pull Up
Walk 5 metres
2 x Push Ups
2 x Pull Ups
Walk 5 metres
3 x Push Ups
3 x Pull Ups
Walk 5 metres
Continue all the way to 10 x Push Ups & 10 x Pull Ups

5. Lactate Threshold Work

Understanding how to limit the onset of blood lactate when completing a met con is known as preventing yourself from “red lining”. This is effectively the point in a met con when you hit the proverbial wall and can’t continue to perform anywhere near the intensity you started at. Often this is a poorly implemented workout strategy – we train this using lots of different methods, but a favourite is a method of “breaking down” a met con. Lets say for example that a typical task based met con could include 3 rounds of 3 movements. Here’s how we could train an athlete to better strategise this type of workout and how to push their boundaries when the time is right:

3 Rounds of:
7 x Wall Ball
14 x Box Jump Overs
21 x Double Unders
Perform round 1 at 75% max effort, then rest 2-3 mins
Perform round 2 at 85% max effort, then rest 2-3 mins
Perform round 3 at 95% max effort

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